NM man among five killed in Marine aircraft crash in California - Albuquerque Journal

NM man among five killed in Marine aircraft crash in California

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – A Marine from New Mexico was one of five who died when their Osprey tiltrotor aircraft crashed during training in the California desert on Wednesday.

The U.S. Marine Corps late Friday identified Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, New Mexico, as one of those killed.

Also killed were two pilots: Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, New Hampshire, and Capt. John J. Sax, 33, of Placer, California. Sax is the son of former Los Angeles Dodgers player Steve Sax.

Strickland was among three tiltrotor crew chiefs killed. The others were: Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Illinois, and Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyoming.

The longest-serving Marine was Losapio, with 8 years and 9 months, while Strickland had been in the service for 1 year and 7 months.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, while speaking at a Saturday wildfire briefing in Santa Fe with President Joe Biden, honored the Valencia Marine and the other crash victims.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the families and the loved ones of these servicemen,” Lujan Grisham said.

In expressing their grief and condolences, leaders from Valencia County said Strickland was a recent graduate of the Los Lunas School District.

“Our entire Valencia County community is deeply saddened by the tragedy of losing five Marines, including Evan Strickland,” state Rep. Brian Baca, R-Los Lunas, said in statement.

State Rep. Kelly Fajardo, R-Los Lunas, said, “Our community is proud of Evan A. Strickland's service in the Marine Corps. My condolences go out to Lance Cpl. Strickland's family and friends in this tragic time.”

The MV-22 Osprey went down Wednesday afternoon during training in a remote area in Imperial County near the community of Glamis, about 115 miles east of San Diego and some 50 miles from Yuma, Arizona.

The Marines were based at Camp Pendleton and assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 364 of Marine Aircraft Group 39, part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of five Marines from the Purple Fox family,” the squadron's commanding officer, Lt. Col. John C. Miller, said in a statement. “Our primary mission now is taking care of the family members of our fallen Marines, and we respectfully request privacy for their families as they navigate this difficult time.”

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The Marines were participating in routine live-fire training over their gunnery range in the Imperial Valley desert, said Marine Maj. Mason Englehart, spokesperson for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The Osprey, a hybrid airplane and helicopter, flew in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but has been criticized by some as unsafe.

It is designed to take off like a helicopter, rotate its propellers to a horizontal position and cruise like an airplane.

Versions of the aircraft are flown by the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.

Before Wednesday, Osprey crashes had caused 46 deaths, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Most recently, four Marines were killed when a Marine Corps Osprey crashed on March 18 near a Norwegian town in the Arctic Circle while participating in a NATO exercise.

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